EPISODE 299

Goalsetter CEO Tanya Van Court, the Passionate Pied Piper of Financial Literacy

56 minutes · April 28, 2022

Tanya Van Court, CEO and Founder of Goalsetter, is on a mission to help the next generation learn about finance and investing through humor and entertainment. The founder of the savings, financial education, and investment platform explains how her daughter’s ninth birthday, an investment account, and a brand-new bike sparked the creation of a tool that has helped families across the country set goals, deepen their understanding of markets, and join the conversation about finance.

Speaker 1:

From the library of the New York Stock Exchange at the corner of Wall and Broad Streets in New York City, you're Inside the ICE House, our podcast from Intercontinental Exchange on markets, leadership and vision in global business, the dream drivers that have made the NYSE an indispensable institution of global growth for over 225 years. Each week, we feature stories of those who hatch plans, create jobs and harness the engine of capitalism right here, right now at the NYSE and at ICE's exchanges and clearinghouses around the world. And, now welcome Inside the ICE House. Here's your host, Josh King of Intercontinental Exchange.

Josh King:

We've been celebrating Financial Literacy Month here at the NYSE and at Intercontinental Exchange, prompting us to reflect for a moment on how finance fits into our lives. The entire investment industry is predicated on channeling funds between savers who have the money to invest and those who need money to build businesses, fund projects, or create new opportunities. Whether it's a new startup that's revolutionizing how we work, live or play or a municipal bond being issued to pay for a new public theater, they need access to capital and a trove of buyers, sellers and lenders to help make sure that those dreams become a reality.

Josh King:

These may be simplified examples of how we interact with finance and investment in everyday life, but it's not inaccurate to say that understanding how those decisions are made, where the money comes from, and how it's all actually paid for are critical to helping us better understand what decisions to support and which ones we're going to pass on. The problem is that people can feel overwhelmed, deciphering the details and unpacking the jargon of our industry. Stocks, bonds, compound interest rates, credit default swaps, or Monte Carlo simulations can, well, look exotic when you're first encountering them. But, when you start unpacking how these concepts interact with one another and peel off some of the layers, you start to realize that it's all much easier to understand than you might have guessed.

Josh King:

We're firm believers that informed market participants make for better markets, and the massive thesis behind the work of today's guest is that the earlier you learn about finance, the more likely you are to take that understanding with you throughout the rest of your life, much like learning foreign language, playing the piano or riding a bike.

Josh King:

Tanya Van Court is the founder and CEO of Goalsetter, a goal-based saving, investing, smart spending and financial literacy platform made for kids and families. Tanya's made it her mission to help kids, teenagers and families talk and learn about finance while introducing these key teaching and learning concepts through humor and entertainment. Our conversation with Tanya Van Court is coming up right after this.

Speaker 1:

And, now a word from Genpact, NYSE ticker G.

Speaker 4:

We are currently encountering delivery delays.

Speaker 5:

Genpact is transforming supply chains using real time data to help manufacturers keep goods flowing from the warehouse so cupboards are never bare at their house. We are in the relentless pursuit of a world that works better for people.

Josh King:

Our guest today, Tanya Van Court, is founder and CEO of Goalsetter, a savings, investing, financial education and investment platform promoting financial literacy. Prior to Goalsetter, Tanya ran preschool and parenting digital products at Nickelodeon, where she led nickjr.com, noggin.com and other parenting initiatives. Tanya's also responsible for launching consumer products at other media brands including Optimum Voice at Cablevision and ESPN Three at ESPN. She's the holder of two industrial engineering degrees from Stanford. Welcome, Tanya, Inside the ICE House.

Tanya Van Court:

Thank you so much for having me, Josh. I'm excited to be here.

Josh King:

So, I spent yesterday in Naples, Florida, calculating in my head how much income I could get from a rental property after I paid taxes, commissions and fees. So, in the spirit of Financial Literacy Month, what one concept in finance should everyone try to understand?

Tanya Van Court:

I think the one concept in finance that everyone should understand is that you should borrow to invest, never borrow to spend. If you understand that borrowing money at a lower interest rate and investing that money at a return that is greater than what you borrowed the money at, that will yield you wealth, then you're on the path to actually being able to build wealth. If you don't understand that fundamental principle, then you're constantly tucking your money under a mattress, putting it into a savings account, just not leveraging your money in a way that is going to yield the fruits of your return.

Josh King:

Goalsetter this morning quoted Jay Z in its Twitter feed. Jay Z said, "You want to know what's more important than throwing away money at a club? It's credit." Was Jay Z right?

Tanya Van Court:

Jay Z was absolutely right. But, the point is that when so many people in our country think about credit, they think about credit cards and then they break out in hives. And, that's not what we want them to think about. We want them to think about the ability to borrow in order to build. So, this is part of financial education. It's debunking the myths around credit is bad or borrowing is bad. We really want people to understand when those are good and when they can use it for their own family's generational wealth.

Josh King:

The Goalsetter commentary around that Jay Z quote said on the Twitter feed, "Jay Z was on to something when he said this. Your credit score affects your ability to rent an apartment and your ability to buy a home. Your credit score also reflects your ability to get lower interest rates on loans and so much more." People don't sort of wise up to what their credit score is for too long, do they?

Tanya Van Court:

They do not and one of the things that we try to do is we try to provide aha moments and real world examples that help people to understand, oh, wow, that actually matters. So, one aha moment with credit scores that we provide is if you have a 650 credit score versus an 800 credit score and you go out and borrow $250,000 in order to buy a house, as an example, over that 30 year period... Forgive me because I'm not going to know the exact numbers. But, with that 650 credit score, you're paying like $80,000 extra for that house. So, having a bad credit score is an expensive proposition all the way around. And, by the way, that $80,000 extra that you're spending... That other guy who has the good credit score, guess what he does with that $80,000 over that 30 year period? He invests it and so that $80,000 now becomes $300,000 in terms of the difference in net worth between these two individuals. Having a bad credit score is a bad deal.

Josh King:

You've talked about this before, I think, Tanya, but can you tell us how your daughter's ninth birthday, also an investment account and a brand new bike, led to the creation of Goalsetter?

Tanya Van Court:

Before I tell you that, what I have to tell you is that I graduated from Stanford with two degrees in engineering. I took a number of classes in the Stanford Business School and I came out of that experience still not understanding personal finance and not being exposed to it, quite frankly, at all. So, when I was in my late twenties, I worked for a company in Silicon Valley. It was a great company. I was responsible for a lot of their process redesign, then I was responsible for helping them to analyze mergers and acquisitions. I led the entire training department. I had a number of really important roles. I was doing a great job and I got a bunch of stock and stock options. And, guess what? I had no idea what I was supposed to do with them.

Tanya Van Court:

So, I did with them what a lot of us do with the gym membership. I just kind of left it there. Oh, that's a nice benefit. I'll just leave it to the side. And, that stock and those options, they grew in value. At one point, I had about a million dollars in paper because of those assets. And, I thought, oh, good Tanya. Good decision to just leave them there, even after they vested. Diversification? Asset allocation? What are those? Well, I learned what those were in 2001 when the big, big technology bubble burst and that million dollars at the beginning of the day was worth about $20,000 by the end of the day.

Tanya Van Court:

And, I vowed to myself at that point, Josh, that while I could not turn back the hands of time, I could make sure that that never happened to my own kids. So, fast forward. When my daughter was eight, about to turn nine, she said, "Mommy, for a ninth birthday, I really only want two things." And, I said, "What's that?." And, she said, "Enough money to start an investment account and a bike." And, I thought to myself, "Wow. I did it." But then, my second thought was, "And, if I can get every kid to say that by the time they're nine years old, I can change the world."

Josh King:

They're a lot of platforms out there that help kids and families embrace saving and investing, and my kids who are now age 17 and 14 are now getting checks from their part time employment work, so they just opened up their own bank account, got their first ATM cards. What makes Goalsetter special and why have families, educators and kids flocked to the product?

Tanya Van Court:

What makes Goalsetter special? So many things. So, the first thing that I'll tell you is it comes with financial education for every member of the family, no matter what age they are. So, you got a kindergartner? We have weekly financial education quizzes that are delivered to your kindergartner. If they're 11, if they're 17, if they're 21, they're still learning about key concepts and these are all key concepts that are rooted in memes and gifs from popular culture, so they're super fun to learn. But, they're also mapped to national financial literacy standards put out by jumpstart.org, so kids are learning real things. In kindergarten, they're learning needs versus wants. In 11th grade, they're learning APY versus APR. The parents who opt onto our platform are learning about interest rates and mortgage rates and points on loans.

Tanya Van Court:

So, we are teaching these very real world concepts but we're making it fun. And, that's one of the things that truly distinguishes Goalsetter from any of the other platforms out there. There are many other things, like the fact that your kids, their aunts and uncles and grandparents can send them goal cards instead of gift cards on birthdays and holidays, so they get real money towards real dreams in a real FDIC insured account and they can use that money to save. They can use that money to invest and buy fantastic stocks on the New York Stock Exchange.

Tanya Van Court:

You know, the other thing about those goal cards is when grandma sends them or when auntie sends them, she can upload a photo, a video or a gif and so it's a personalized and customized experience. We believe that allowing kids to save for their own goals, allowing their families to help support them in saving towards goals and not just give them more consumer goods or nonsense, that's what's going to change your kids into savers and investors and not just spenders, because I guarantee you they've got that new ATM card. It's nice and bright and shiny and they're running around and they're learning how to spend. Great. All of my kids, as soon as they came out of my womb, they knew how to spend, Josh. But, what kids don't know is how to save and how to invest, and Goalsetter lets them invest too. So, that's another really important attribute. We let them buy partial shares or whole shares of stocks and ETFs and we give them investment education.

Tanya Van Court:

They're going to learn about diversification and asset allocation, unlike young Tanya, and we're going to be sure that they are prepared to be financially independent and secure.

Josh King:

Tanya, so many families were transformed in one way or another, some good, some bad, through the pandemic and what it forced families to have to do. It put a lot of them in unchartered financial territory. Many lost their jobs while others, they found themselves, hey, I don't have to commute anymore. I can move to a geography where there's a lower cost of living and they can save more cash than they ever did before. What are the common goals that you see across the Goalsetter platform that you've seen really evolve over the last two years?

Tanya Van Court:

I love that you ask that question, Josh, because it just reflects such an understanding of the human condition that happened during COVID. And, the way that I encapsulate that human condition is by one interaction I had when I went to Costco and it was in those first couple of weeks. You remember. When the lines were outside the door and nobody quite knew... You know, we were all still cleaning our avocados before we brought them in the house. Right? It was that time period. And so, it was scary and the pandemic was scary.

Tanya Van Court:

So, I walk in. I'm in the produce section and there's a young man there. His name is Jose. He's in his early thirties and he doesn't have on a mask and he's working in the produce section and helping all of the customers there. And, I said, "Jose, why are you not wearing a mask?." And, he said, "Well, I have asthma and the mask that they issue here..." Because, it was also hard to get masks. "The masks that they issue to us is too thick and it's hard for me to breathe."

Tanya Van Court:

And so, I realized in that moment that, one, Costco was issuing N95 masks. That's fantastic. But, two, there was this young man who had a pre-existing condition and he couldn't stay at home. He couldn't go to his house in the Hamptons and take Zoom calls. He likely didn't have an emergency fund where he could say, "Hey, I'm going to sit this one out for three months because I could die or I could take COVID home to my kids and my wife." He didn't have those options.

Tanya Van Court:

And so, one of the things that we have seen is a really important part of Goalsetter is people are saving for emergency funds. No one wants to be trapped in that same quandary and in that same position again. And, in fact, we are working with employers across the country to provide Goalsetter as an employee benefit because guess what. Why do people show up and go to work every day? They show up and go to work for their own financial security but also so their kids can live a better life. And so, now if I as an employer can give my employee a means to save for an emergency fund, financial education that helps them to understand why participating in their 401(k) is so important, financial literacy that helps them to understand other key concepts of saving and investing and I can give their kids all of that too? Now, I'm hitting the ball out the park. I'm thinking about generational wealth. I'm thinking about those in my organization who may have the least and need the most and I'm really delivering on the promise.

Josh King:

We're going to get into what companies can and should be doing in a couple of minutes. But, for now, let's just pivot back a little bit to sort of figure out how you, Tanya, sort of found yourself in this position. ICE's founder and CEO Jeff Sprecher, also an engineer, often talks about the value of looking at problems with an engineer's perspective, breaking things down, seeing how the parts and they all fit together.

Josh King:

As you mentioned earlier, you have two engineering degrees from Stanford. Didn't really set you up for a career in personal finance. But, how has engineering guided all of the decision making you've had throughout your career?

Tanya Van Court:

I think that anyone with an engineer's mind but who also was on the debate team in high school, right? Then, you have the two essential skills that you need in order to be an entrepreneur. Everything about what we do is both problem solving and then telling the world what problems you're solving. And so, those engineering degrees are probably some of the most essential tools in my own tool belt. Right?

Tanya Van Court:

So, number one. When we looked at the market early on, we saw a lot of teen debit cards in the market and teen debit cards, that's, again, fine. But, it's not really solving the problem. We have a problem in America with haves and have nots that I'm sure we're all aware of. We have a problem with one contingent in our society that is consumers and supporting the other contingent to be savers and investors and to grow really wealthy off of those folks who buy the products and services from the companies that you and I invest in.

Tanya Van Court:

And so, in order for those consumers to really cross that transom and become savers and investors too, you're not just going to put a debit card into their hands. They've got to understand what that chasm is and the financial knowledge that is going to help them to cross the chasm. So, very early on for us, this was not just about how do we monetize kids or how do we put... How do we build another cash app for kids? Or, how do we put as many debit cards as we can into kids' hands? And, in fact, it was quite the contrary. We don't want the next generation of kids to be the next generation of uber consumers. We actually want them to be savers and investors. And so, everything that we did was designed around that.

Tanya Van Court:

Now, how do you then build that product? If that's the goal, how do you build that product? Well, I think the third set of tools in my toolset is that I came from Nickelodeon and ESPN and Discovery Education and these places that knew how to engage the next generation and how to both engage them, entertain them and educate them at the same time. So, when we set out to build a product that was going to help kids to learn about financial education, we said the exact same thing that my team used to say at Nickelodeon. Our job is to make sure that parents come and turn that television on to Nickelodeon. But, once they turn the channel on to Nickelodeon, our job is to also make sure that kids say, "Don't turn that channel."

Tanya Van Court:

And so, we built a product that was really designed for both parents and kids. For parents, we have rules like learn before you burn attached to the teen's debit card. So, your teens' debit card, Josh, they'll automatically freeze on Sunday morning if they haven't taken their financial literacy quiz for the week yet. Right? So, that's great for you from a parental perspective because you don't have to chase around and make sure that these kids are not just spending their money but learning key principles of saving and investing. We do that for you and we make it easy.

Tanya Van Court:

But, now, how do we not piss off your kids so that they hate our product? Well, guess what? Those same Jay Z lyrics that you quoted earlier, we use those lyrics and popular culture and all of the things that kids can relate to, memes and gifs. Those are the things that we use to engage them.

Tanya Van Court:

So, you know, when you think about these engineering degrees, these engineering degrees have said we've got a big problem to solve. How do we break that problem down into bite sized pieces? And, what are the essential components of those bite sized pieces? And, for us, the essential components are creating something that parents value, creating something that kids love, and creating something that's truly transformative and has not been seen in the market before.

Tanya Van Court:

We just, by the way... Not to toot my own horn, but to toot our horn collectively as Team Goalsetter, we just won the Fintech Breakthrough Awards for the Best Personal Finance Product of 2022. And, you don't do that by just creating a me too product. You do that by creating something that has the opportunity to be revolutionary and that's what we've been trying to do since day one.

Josh King:

Quick digression here because you brought up your experience at Nickelodeon and Discovery and in terms of your own development toward getting ready to launch and lead something like Goalsetter, on this very day that we're recording our conversation, Warner Brothers Discovery trading for the first time as a standalone business following the merger of Discovery and Warner Media. What are the prospects, do you think, based on your experience back then for this new Hollywood giant and what promises streaming and OTT provide for expanding financial literacy?

Tanya Van Court:

Someone told me a long time ago that content is king and when we look at the disintermediation of the cable industry, it was disintermediated by technology. We know that. By the Netflixes and the Amazons of the world. Right? But, it was also disintermediated at the hands of kids. There were kids who were coming out of their parents' houses and those kids were the ones who were saying, "Hey. Why would you pay $200 a month for a cable bill? That's insane. Instead, I'm going to stick with Netflix and Amazon." And, they did.

Tanya Van Court:

Well, the interesting thing about the genesis of that versus the evolution of where we've seen Netflix and Amazon go is what are Netflix and Amazon now. They're not just distribution players, which is what they were at the beginning when they were licensing the content from the likes of Warner and Nickelodeon and Viacom. Now, they are content creators, and so, content is king.

Tanya Van Court:

And so, you know, where can all of this go? I mean, look, I think the sky's the limit. I think that we as human beings will continue to value content and just as we've been able to demonstrate with Goalsetter, combining financial education with great content is the way to people's hearts and the way into their minds in a format that is so different than what we've seen in the past hundred years. Right? How have we done financial education before, Josh? We have sent bankers across the street to the local school and we've said, "Hey. Someone's coming in from Junior Achievement and they're going to teach you all about financial education."

Josh King:

Right.

Tanya Van Court:

And then, you got a guy who's in there who's like responsible for commercial banking trying to talk to some seventh graders. And so, you got somebody who's... You know, their day job is banking and they're going and trying to teach financial education. That does not make for compelling content and media.

Josh King:

Yeah.

Tanya Van Court:

If we say that content is king. So, we got to think about this differently. If it's really a priority, do we have to present it in a way that meets people where they are and that connects with people? Finance is scary and so if we can make it less scary by making it fun, by making it relatable, by showing other people who've mastered it who look like me and sound like me and feel like me, then we've truly revolutionized the space of financial education and that's what we're endeavoring to do.

Josh King:

If you look at the reviews of Goalsetter on the App Store, pretty remarkable. Common trend across them is how useful it is for the entire family, not just the teens and tweens that we're talking about, my kids that it's originally built for. Why do you think that parents and families have embraced the platform as much as Goalsetter's target audience have? My son and daughter?

Tanya Van Court:

Well, it's interesting. Again, when you talk about that engineering preparation, I remember fairly early in the company's trajectory we were only for kids. Kindergarten through 12th grade. And, by the way, I'll tell you all the venture capitalists said, "No, Tanya, but what ages are you really for? Is it like the preschoolers or is it the high schoolers?." Because, everyone else was picking. Well, I got to tell you. I used to lead parenting and preschool at Nickelodeon, so I'm used to talking to parents, researching parents, asking them a bunch of questions. And, when we asked parents a bunch of questions, what they told us was they wanted a platform for the whole family. They wanted something that grew with their kids as their kids grew. As their kindergartners started off, they wanted their first savings account that family members could contribute to and they could save for their first goals. Once they became nine or 10 years old, then it's your first debit card. When they're 13 or 14 years old, then it's your first investment account.

Tanya Van Court:

So, we knew already that we were much broader than anyone else was thinking because that's what parents told us. One of the things that they didn't tell us and probably because we didn't ask the question but we saw it in their behavior... They didn't tell us that they wanted this platform to be for them too. But, there's a lovely woman who was out of California and her name was Emma Dunn and I was looking at Emma's account and I knew that Emma only had one child but she had three kids listed on her account.

Tanya Van Court:

So, I called her up and I said, "Emma, I'm totally confused. You know, you got these three kids listed on your account but I know you only have one kid. What's going on?." And, she said, "Tanya, my husband and I love Goalsetter so much. We love the ability to save for goals for our child. We love the ability to learn financial education. That we want to use it for ourselves too." And, that's when the light bulb went off for me, that over the past hundred years, we have not taught anyone about financial education and we have 40% of Americans who don't have $400 saved in an emergency fund. This isn't a small problem. This isn't a niche problem. This is a major issue in America and that's what made me think, "Wow. What we're doing for this next generation of kids, we can absolutely be doing for the adults in the house who may need some extra help because they never got it when they were their kids' age."

Josh King:

Yeah. I mean, talking about finances and goals can sometimes be an uncomfortable conversation for intergenerational conversations and I think about my own experience. Went through public high school, time to go to college. My parents said, "Well, you know, we've been saving and your grandparents have been very generous, so your college is going to be paid for and good luck in the next four years." And, they hand you a credit card and you get through four years. You don't know what debt is or how much the investment really was and then you say, "I do want to go to graduate school." And, they say, "Well, your grandparents and us have not saved for that. Good luck."

Josh King:

And, they don't tell you anything about what the investment is, what a loan looks like, why you would borrow this money now and your ability to pay back that and a lot more later is going to come. What's your advice to give to families for whom these really are taboo topics?

Tanya Van Court:

Well, the first thing that I would say is that for a lot of families, they're taboo topics because as we just talked about, Josh, that family doesn't know what advice to give. And so, they stay away from it because they feel ill-equipped to have that conversation with their kids. So, the first piece of advice that I would have is if you didn't know how to swim but you took your kid out to the local pool, you would never just throw your kid into that pool, in spite of the fact that you didn't know how to swim, without giving them swimming lessons because we would all be clear. That kid is going to drown and they are going to drown financially if you don't figure out how to have this conversation. And, it doesn't just have to be you. This can be having a conversation with someone at the local bank. It can be having a conversation with a financial advisor. It can be having a conversation with a member of your family or a friend who you say that person really knows about finances. Let me pull them in and have this conversation together.

Tanya Van Court:

So, that's the first thing that I would say. I mean, think about this as I don't care if you are really wealthy or you are wealth seeking. You're throwing that kid in the deep end if you don't have the conversation. 90% of wealthy families lose their wealth by the third generation. 78% of wealthy families say they don't trust their kids with an inheritance. So, you know, we are not raising our kids to be financially fluent in the language of money and we need to do so.

Tanya Van Court:

The second thing that I would say is that, again, based on those statistics that I just shared, everybody's in the same boat. Don't feel shame. There's so many of us that feel shame for not having the answers or not knowing what to say to these kids, and none of us should feel that way because so many people are in the same boat.

Tanya Van Court:

And then, the third thing that I would say is if it's just a taboo topic like, "Hey, I don't want my kid knowing about my personal finances or I don't want to tell my kid what I can or can't afford...."

Josh King:

Right.

Tanya Van Court:

You know, you can have conversations with kids without necessarily revealing all of your own personal finances. We all make personal financial decisions that are not necessarily tied to how much money we have in the bank. I met a guy the other day. He's a multi, multi, multi millionaire, a venture investor. And, he said, "Look, I'm not setting my kids up to be multimillionaires. That's not what they're going to get." So, you know, that family will have a conversation about, "Hey, I'm going to pay for your undergraduate. You got to figure out graduate school. You got to figure out your own house after graduate school. You've got to figure out these things." Not because they can't afford it but because they think that it's a better way to put their kids on a path of being financially independent.

Tanya Van Court:

So, yes, these conversations are tough but it doesn't mean that you should feel bad or feel guilty or feel less than if you don't have the means to send your kid to grad school or you don't have the means to give them a down payment on a house. Plenty of Americans are in the same boat. This is not about you and your decisions. This is about setting your kid up for success and helping them to make the right decisions. They don't get to tell you what to do with your money. You do get to help them with the decisions that they're making with theirs early on.

Josh King:

I mean, talking about setting your kid up for success, Tanya, you shared that when your son Henriks was around five, he drew on a school worksheet that his hope for the year was to set up an investment account. At what age should parents begin cultivating these good financial habits?

Tanya Van Court:

The bad financial habits will cultivate themselves if you don't cultivate the good financial habits from early on. I have a couple of family members who have kids and the kids get lots and lots and lots of gifts from the time that they're two years old and three years old and four years old and five years old. So, guess what happens by the time they're seven and eight and nine and 10? They're expecting lots of gifts.

Josh King:

Mm-hmm (affirmative)-

Tanya Van Court:

And, they're not expecting contributions towards goals. They're not expecting to have to save for that big item that they want. They're just expecting to get lots of stuff, one tenth of which they will use and the other nine tenths of which their parent will give away or throw away. So, when we cultivate our kids to be consumers early on instead of savers or investors, that's what we're teaching them. I mean, it's just like if you... You know, if your kid doesn't eat any vegetables from the time that they're born and they've never seen a vegetable until they're 18 and they get out of the house, it's probably pretty unlikely that they're going to love vegetables.

Tanya Van Court:

So, you know, if we don't make it intentional and a part of our daily lives with our kids, then guess what? They don't know to incorporate it into their lives themselves. We start at the earliest of ages and you can see with my kids that absolutely means five years old, if not earlier.

Josh King:

On your website, you outline how schools, companies, community organizations, financial institutions and city and government agencies can join the Goalsetter movement. Can you walk us through some of the partnerships that you've established and what you're still working for?

Tanya Van Court:

So, on the school side, we've launched a partnership with The Eagle Academies right here in New York City. There are five independent schools. Every single one of those kids not only is getting a Goalsetter account, they're getting a Goalsetter account with cash contributed to that account by our fantastic partners UBS Bank and Deutsche Bank. They are also getting accounts that have stock in those accounts and that stock is being contributed by Robert F. Smith at Vista Equity. He has given five shares of stock from every Vista Equity company that has gone public. So, these kids are, in high school, starting their lives out with a savings account which, by the way, kids who have savings accounts are six times more likely to go to college and four times more likely to own stocks by the time they're young adults. And, they're starting with an investment account. So, they are learning early on that they are not just consumers in this world. They are investors and owners. So, that's one of our partnerships.

Tanya Van Court:

We also have a partnership with BetMGM, which is a division of MGM, and it's really exciting because we are seeing that both employees are saving for their emergency fund, they're investing in the stock market, and they're getting kids or grandkids or nieces or nephews involved in their own journeys and starting their own journeys. So, that's on the employee benefit side.

Tanya Van Court:

We just launched another employee benefits partnership with US Bank. We offer Goalsetter to 250 US Bank employees and 92% of those employees came back and said that they preferred learning about money through Goalsetter than through classroom learning. 92% of those employees also said that they valued Goalsetter as an employee benefit. So, that was really exciting and inspiring because it just sets the table for every other employer out there to say if you want to offer something that your employees will value and that will be life changing and game changing for them, this is it.

Tanya Van Court:

The third piece is that we are providing Goalsetter as a white label solution for banks and financial institutions throughout this country. We have an exclusive relationship with Fiserv, which serves the majority of banks and financial institutions in the country. And so, hand in hand with Fiserv, we are providing a white label solution so that banks and FIs don't have to experience the same disintermediation that we talked about earlier in the cable industry. Right? Instead of kids waking up and saying, "Hey. I don't need a banking relationship. I'm on this fintech platform and in this fintech world, I will stay." That bank can offer the next generation of customers a fantastic product that resonates with them and then they can cultivate the relationship with that young customer so that when they turn 18, when they turn 21, they can establish a long term relationship with the bank. And so, we are really excited about that partnership with Fiserv and the banks and financial institutions who we're in the midst of talking to right now.

Josh King:

After the break, Tanya Van Court, the founder and CEO of Goalsetter, and I are going to dive deeper into how Goalsetter is continuing to grow, how financial literacy is helping reshape the lives of families and individuals, and what's happening in the future for the company. That's all coming up right after this.

Josh King:

And, now a word from Stellantis, NYSE ticker STLA.

Speaker 7:

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Josh King:

Welcome back. Before the break, Tanya Van Court, CEO and founder of Goalsetter, and I were discussing her career, the history of Goalsetter and the importance of financial literacy. Okay. So, you raised $19.5 million in funding for Goalsetter. Congratulations on that lucrative milestone. How do you plan to deploy the capital?

Tanya Van Court:

Well, we have already started to deploy the capital by just hiring amazing team members and we are doing that because our focus is really on B to B partnerships and relationships. And so, those B to B relationships are in three categories. Number one is school systems. We have an extraordinary school-based product that's a financial education product but the beautiful thing about it is the kids who get Goalsetter Classroom will also get Goalsetter the app, and so, it's a one-two punch. You get the theoretical when you're at school but then you get the practical when you're at home. And, for many districts who we're talking to, the amazing third leg of that stool is they're getting local corporations to donate stock and sponsor kids with stock in their accounts. So, that's our school-based approach.

Tanya Van Court:

The second thing that we are really focused on is employee benefits and providing Goalsetter as an employee benefit. And so, we have a team and a sales team and an implementation and customer success team that's focused on that vertical and making sure that our customers like US Bank and like BetMGM have a fantastic experience with us.

Tanya Van Court:

And then, the third leg of our stool is banks and financial institutions and we are deploying capital so that we are working hand in hand with Fiserv on turning up banks and financial institutions with a great white label product.

Tanya Van Court:

So, those are the three places that we are really focused on right now.

Josh King:

Tanya, women and minority-owned businesses continue to face a lot of obstacles when they're trying to raise funds for new businesses. Less than 3% of total venture capital funding goes to minority and women-owned businesses. As a black female founder, what advice do you have for other entrepreneurs who are looking to start a business and may not have that relationship with Robert Smith?

Tanya Van Court:

I would just love for every one of your listeners to imagine that you work for a boss and you're on one side of the floor and you got a competitive team member on the other side of the floor. And, on your side of the floor, the boss gives you... In the case of black women, by the way Josh, it's point four percent of venture capital funding goes towards black women. So, let's say point four percent. Right?

Tanya Van Court:

So, your boss gives you 50 cents and for every 50 cents that your boss gives you, your boss gives the competitor across the hall $100. And then, your boss comes and checks in after three months and says, "Hey. What kind of traction do you have?." And, you're like, "What do you mean what kind of traction do I have? I don't have enough money to hire a team. I don't have enough money to market my product. I don't have enough money to even build the product and those folks across the way have enough money to do all of those things and then some."

Tanya Van Court:

And then, by the way, particularly when you and your colleague across the hall both break out your resumes and both of your resumes are equivalent. I mean, yours could even be better. You know? You could have two Stanford degrees in engineering, a world of success at companies like Nickelodeon and Discovery Education and ESPN and proven recommendations and referrals from bosses and peers and other folks who work for you. So, it is not an easy path.

Tanya Van Court:

And so, what advice do I give? I mean, the advice that I give is, number one, you just got to be tough. You've got to be tough and you cannot see obstacles as barriers. You can only see them as obstacles. Okay? There's yet another thing here in my way. I got to go over it. I got to go under it. I got to go to the left of it. I got to go to the right of it. I've got to go somewhere, but I'm getting around it. And, you know, that tenacity and that grit is the only thing that carries you through because there are many, many dark days. And, I'll... You know, I'll just give you one of them from my perspective.

Tanya Van Court:

We have launched a savings and financial education platform for Goalsetter early on. We couldn't launch a debit card because when I called, the folks who were behind Greenlight, one of our major competitors, and it was very early on for Greenlight. They didn't have that many customers. And, I said, "Hey. You are the back end bank and you're issuing cards for Greenlight. We have a kids finance platform. We'd love for you to issue debit cards for us too so that we could round out our platform."

Josh King:

Mm-hmm (affirmative)-

Tanya Van Court:

And, the person I talked to said, "Well, have you raised $5 million yet?." And, I said, "No. I haven't." And, he said, "Well, if you haven't raised $5 million, then I got to be honest with you. We're not going to issue a debit card for you and no one else will either." Now, when you think about those words, right, those words are words that are meant to stop you in your tracks.

Josh King:

Sure.

Tanya Van Court:

Those words are not words that are meant to say, "Hey, I'm sorry. We don't have an option for you. Maybe try some other places." Those words are words that are meant to get you out of the game. And so, if I had stopped there, then I wouldn't be here. My only advice is, number one, find friends and fans because we all have them, whether my friends and fans are Robert F. Smith or Frank Bisignano. Right? There are people who come into your circle who say, "I believe in you. I believe in what you're doing and I'm going to help you and I'm going to support you." And, we can all find those people and sometime those people are... You know, they're an entry level manager who may happen to know somebody who knows somebody who knows somebody. So, find your friends and fans.

Tanya Van Court:

And then, my second is don't take no for an answer. I haven't known Robert F. Smith my entire life. I met him in the course of this work because it was important for me to get to him and I wouldn't take no for an answer.

Josh King:

I got a dear friend whose son was holed up in his basement tracking GameStop until he made a killing on it, and we've seen so many reports on the other hand of the perils of the gamification of investing for kids without a strong background in financial literacy. How do we encourage financial literacy among folks who are already dipping their toes into the market but maybe not know what they're doing?

Tanya Van Court:

You know, unfortunately I hate to say this because I have some friends who are the same way. Right? And, these friends, like, they... They played around in the markets for about three, four, five months, and then they were like, "I keep losing. This is not a fun game to play if I don't know the rules." And so, I think that's the bottom line that we have to help people understand. If you go and play my daughter in Monopoly right now and you've never played Monopoly before, you might as well forget about it, Josh. You are going to be laying out on the floor crying or curled up in a fetal position by the end of this game. Right?

Tanya Van Court:

We cannot expect kids or adults to be able to win the game if they don't know the rules of the game. And so, it really is just about helping them to understand there are rules. There are rules of how you win and I can teach you those rules. Up until now, guess what those rules have been? Those rules have been the domain of other people. Those rules have been things that are locked inside of a black box that only those who are born with golden keys or silver spoons have access to. And so, we have to democratize those rules and make those rules public domain knowledge for everyone because when we do that, then people go, "I get it and I want more." Right?

Tanya Van Court:

We have seen that in so many spaces. I mean, if I go out and ask a thousand 40-year-olds right now, "Tell me about crypto," guess what? Like, 99% of them will probably blanche and say, "I don't really know that much about it." If I go out and ask a thousand 17-year-olds about crypto, I bet I would get a different answer.

Josh King:

Mm-hmm (affirmative)-

Tanya Van Court:

And so, when you just make information available, then people are hungry for that knowledge and kids are hungry for the knowledge. We just got to make it available to them.

Josh King:

So, Tanya, we talked a little bit earlier about Robert Smith, the founder, chairman, CEO of Vista Equity Partners. He's on your roll of investors. But, you got a long list of notable people behind them. Give us the sort of [inaudible 00:44:01] team roster of the people who've gone on the Goalsetter team. And, how did you get them involved in the project?

Tanya Van Court:

We are super excited to, as you indicated, have Robert Smith because he's such a visionary and leader. But, we're also excited to have people like Chris Paul and Kevin Durant, Carmelo Anthony, the actors Anthony Anderson and Lance Gross. We're excited to have major companies like MasterCard and US Bank, PNC Bank, Fiserv. So, we have a really healthy mix of both individuals and corporations that, quite frankly, are really concerned about the financial well-being of America. And, that's the common thread between all of our investors that stitches them together and that made them all write checks towards Goalsetter. They were... They were mindful. They were intentional about the work that we're doing and they saw the difference. They saw that our work is all about financial education and creating the next generation of savers and investors and is not just about putting a debit card into kids' hands. And, that's what made the difference for them.

Josh King:

How did you knit this team together in time of COVID? Was this actually knocking on doors and seeing people face to face the way it was pre-COVID or were you able to do this in a more efficient process?

Tanya Van Court:

Well, we certainly did it virtually but I don't know that it's ever an efficient process to get funding for an early stage startup. But, what we found was that good people know good people and people who are of a particular mindset and character bring in other people who are of that mindset and character. So, you know, when Kevin Durant and his team said, "Hey, Tanya. You know, we're going to introduce you to Chris Paul and C.J. Paul and their team there," that was an introduction that went a long way because they are both of like minds when it comes to the kinds of companies they invest in, the kinds of people they invest in and the kinds of social impact they're looking to have.

Josh King:

With the few minutes we have left, Tanya, let's dive a little bit into some of the particular aspects of Goalsetter and how they play out in people's lives. The Cashola Card, an instrumental part of the platform, an FDIC-insured MasterCard. That's NYSE ticker symbol MA. It's a backed debit card that has fun financial literacy quizzes attached to it. Talk to us about how learn before you burn works.

Tanya Van Court:

So, you as a parent can opt to activate learn before you burn as a rule or not. But, if you choose to activate it, then up until Sunday, your kid will get notifications saying, "Hey, you haven't taken your weekly financial literacy quiz for the week yet." They can go in. They can see their weekly quiz. Their weekly quiz only has 10 questions attached to it. They've got to score eight, nine or 10 in order to pass the quiz and in order to open up the following week's quiz. If they don't score eight, nine or 10, guess what, Josh? They can take that quiz over and over again as many times as they want. Why? Because all we care about is their learning. So, if they take that quiz five times, they're going to be five times smarter and they will eventually pass the quiz. And, when they pass the quiz, then their debit card will stay open.

Tanya Van Court:

Now, if they don't happen to get to the quiz until Sunday of that week, on Sunday morning their debit card will freeze and the kid will get a notification that says, "Uh oh. Your debit card is frozen. You haven't taken your financial literacy quiz for the week yet." But, the minute they take that quiz and pass it, their card will unfreeze again. And, the quiz only takes about five minutes for them to take. So, they're gaining knowledge and then they're gaining back the ability to use their debit card once they have the knowledge that they need.

Josh King:

What other controls does the parent have as they sort of guide their kid's use of the card and spending?

Tanya Van Court:

So, the parent can see every single thing that their kid spends money on as soon as their kid spends it. Our findings are that parents didn't really care to put a lot of controls on the card in terms of, hey, my kid can or cannot spend it at the local liquor store, because most kids aren't going to do that when they know their kid is going to... Their parent is going to see, hey, you spent this money at the local liquor store. It's just not going to happen.

Tanya Van Court:

So, that for us was investment that was not worth it. We preferred to spend our time and resources really investing in inspiring the kids to take their financial education quizzes and then showing the parents on the back end these are all the places where you kid spent money. And again, it happens in real time, so if your kid spends that money in real time on something that you don't like, you can give them a call immediately and say, "Hey, go take that back to the store. I don't want you spending that amount of money in that place."

Tanya Van Court:

But, the other thing that we have is learn to earn, and so, if you don't want to be the parent who is using negative reinforcement for your kid to learn with our financial education quizzes, you can use positive reinforcement. You can actually pay your kid for every quiz question they get right on a weekly basis. And so, you know, since we only opened up 10 quizzes, you're not going to go broke, Josh. You can choose to pay them a quarter for every quiz question or a dollar for every quiz question. And, if they answer those 10 quiz questions, they get extra money on their allowance for becoming financially savvy.

Josh King:

I'm not kidding. I spent yesterday, Sunday, watching the final round of the Masters and Scottie Scheffler on his march toward his first green jacket, and one thing that I'm doing to keep myself busy as I'm watching a tournament without a whole lot of drama as it was going on is I had all my coin rolls and a little thing that helps me organize 50 pennies and $20 of quarters and $2 in nickels and $5 of dimes together. And, I was taking my vast box of change that is earning nothing for me except for sitting there. I'm going to schlep them over to Chase later on today. Talk to me about the round up your change aspect of the card and how that gets put to good use.

Tanya Van Court:

Josh, you're going to love this one because not only can you round up your change, guess what? Grandma can round up her change and uncles and godparents can all round up their change and contribute that change to your kid's goals. Or, by the way, you can round up your change for your own goals. So, here's how round ups works. You connect that Chase bank account. When you connect that Chase bank account, every time you swipe your debit card, it rounds up to the nearest one dollar all the way through five dollars. You can also add a boost to it, so you can add a two X boost or a three X boost. So, if your round up is only a quarter but you got a three X boost, you just saved 75 cents instead.

Tanya Van Court:

And then, that money goes towards wherever you want it to go. So, you can decide that it's going towards one of your kids' goals or you can decide that it's going towards your own goals. And again, with our family circle feature, you can invite different members of the family, all the members of the family, who can also participate in round ups or auto save and contribute to your kids' goals. We get that request all the time, as you know. Right? There's always the favorite aunt or the grandparent who's like, "I want to contribute to little Johnny's college fund." Or, "I want to contribute to him going to robotics camp this summer. How can I do that?." And, this is a great way of them not only contributing but cementing a relationship with that grandkid where the grandkid is like, "Wow." We've heard this too. "Grandma's round ups added $50 to my account last month. This is awesome." And so, they see that save the change happening in real time.

Josh King:

A recent piece in Forbes, Tanya, wrote about the fact that while other small businesses were closing the doors, Goalsetter managed to thrive. And, small business is foundational to the American economy, accounting for over 99% of our 28.7 million firms in this country. As a small business, you've grown meaningfully. How do you think about managing the growth and continuing to expand with the investment and the capital that you've raised and where things go from here?

Tanya Van Court:

As an entrepreneur, you always have to be both visionary and confident in where your steps will take you. And so, you know, I think about managing the growth by listening to the market and when I'm having conversations every day, I feel really confident in hiring the people who we are hiring and building our staff and our resources to focus on those three verticals that we talked about, banks and financial institutions white labeling, employee benefits and schools, because every one of those verticals needs what we have and they don't have anything like Goalsetter today.

Tanya Van Court:

So, managing growth for me is all about how do we stay one step ahead. How do we stay one step ahead of the contracts that are waiting to get signed? How do we make sure that we have the infrastructure and processes in place? You know that I have two degrees in industrial engineering. We're all about process, all about successful customer implementations. So, how do we have those processes baked and in place so that when every one of those contracts gets signed, they have an amazing experience? They have an amazing turn up experience. They have an amazing roll out experience. And, ultimately, the end users and the customers are using Goalsetter and excited about this new tool that they got in their lives that, 60 days ago, they didn't have and 60 days ago their families didn't have.

Josh King:

For our listeners, where do I go next? What do I do with this phone in my hand? How do I get more information about Goalsetter, download the app and get started?

Tanya Van Court:

Go to goalsetter.co. That's G-O-A-L-S-E-T-T-E-R dot C-O. And, download Goalsetter there. You can download Goalsetter as a parent, as a grandparent, as a godparent, as an aunt, as an uncle, just a person who has a kid in your life that you love or a person who feels like, hey, I need this financial education and this on ramp to financial wellness. There are so many of us who are in big jobs and never quite learned the key tenets of financial education, and this is for you too. This is for everyone. So, that's how you can go and download it and begin to take that walk.

Josh King:

Well, on this Financial Literacy Month, this has been an incredible tour through Goalsetter and what we as parents and families and kids need to do to start upping our financial literacy. Tanya, thanks so much for joining us Inside the ICE House.

Tanya Van Court:

Thank you so much for having me, Josh. I love the ICE House. It's a great place to be.

Josh King:

That's our conversation for this week. Our guest was Tanya Van Court, CEO and founder of Goalsetter. If you like what you heard, please rate us on iTunes so other folks know where to find us, and if you've got a comment or a question you'd like one of our experts to tackle on a future show or you've got a suggestion for someone you think we ought to have on the show, email us at [email protected] or tweet at us at Ice House Podcast.

Josh King:

Our show is produced by Stefania [inaudible 00:55:07] with engineering and editing from Kent Abel and Ian Wolff. I'm Josh King, your host, signing off from the library of the New York Stock Exchange. Thanks for listening. Talk to you next week.

Speaker 8:

Information contained in this podcast was obtained in part from publicly available sources and not independently verified. Neither ICE nor its affiliates make any representations or warranties, express or implied, as to the accuracy or completeness of the information and do not sponsor, approve or endorse any of the content herein, all of which is presented solely for informational and educational purposes. Nothing herein constitutes an offer to sell, a solicitation of an offer to buy any security or a recommendation of any security or trading practice. Some portions of the preceding conversation may have been edited for the purpose of length or clarity.

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Information contained in this podcast was obtained in part from publicly available sources, and not independently verified. Neither ICE nor its affiliates make any representations or warranties, express or implied, as to the accuracy or completeness of the information and do not sponsor, approve, or endorse any of the content herein, all of which is presented solely for informational and educational purposes. Nothing herein constitutes an offer to sell, a solicitation of an offer to buy any security, or a recommendation of any security or trading practice.